Master of Social Work

Program Description

The Master of Social Work program is designed for professionals engaged in social welfare and social development work who wish to pursue master’s degree that would equip them with a higher level of competence for direct practice and leadership in their field of practice. This program is open to individuals with a bachelor’s degree in social work and to those without a BSSW pursuing a diploma in social work with a GWA of 2.0 or better.

Program Goals

The Master of Social Work aims to prepare students to assume leadership roles in social administration, clinical practice or community organizing.

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from a recognized academic institution;
  • A high level of intellectual capacity and integrity; and
  • A high English proficiency level (as evidenced by a TOEFL certification) for foreign applicants.

These will be determined through (1) an examination of an applicant’s undergraduate credentials and (2) a review of references from former professors and professional supervisors.

Admission Policies

A Program Admission Committee, headed by the Program Chair of the Social Work Program, will convene to deliberate on the documents submitted by the applicants. The OUR then informs the students of the results of the admission.

If all documents and requirements have been fulfilled by the student, he/she will be admitted as a regular student. Since work experiences are highly considered and important while studying, a regular student is recommended to enrol maximum of 6 units per semester.

A student will be given provisional status if the student failed to submit the needed requirements for admission to the program. The student will be given one year to complete the needed documents.

A student will be given a probationary status if the GWA of the student from his/her previous degree or from preceding semester as a student of UPOU is lower than 2.0. The student needs to acquire a GWA of 2.0 or better in his/her succeeding 12 units within two semester; otherwise, the student will be advised to shift to Diploma in Social Work program.

Mode of Instruction

All courses, except for the field instruction courses, will be delivered mainly by distance education mode. Field instruction courses, an integral part in social work education, requires face-to-face supervision and this will be accomplished with the support of agency field work supervisor working under the overall direction of the faculty-in-charge of the course.

Prospective applicants are advised that the program requires at least one field instruction course for those with BSSW while those without a BSSW will need two field instruction courses. Each course requires working 320 hours in an assigned agency during their regular working hours.

Those without a bachelor’s degree in social work and intend to pursue a Master of Social Work and complete the 1,000-hour requirement for professional social work training will be required to enrol in a total of five field instruction courses.

Those whose employment will not allow for an adjustment of their work schedule for field instruction with another agency may apply to have a work-study scheme. In this scheme, they could conduct their field instruction in the agencies where they are working provided that they satisfy the guidelines to become fieldwork agencies.


The program consists of 39 units, with varying tracks based on chosen area of specialization (clinical practice, social administration and community organizing), for professionals entering directly to Master’s degree and more than 39 units for individuals coming from Diploma program. After successfully completing all courses, candidates must take and pass a comprehensive examination to earn the degree.

Core Courses (18 units)

Course Code Course Title Course Description Number of Units
SW201 Social, Economic & Political Structures and Processes Socio-economic and political structures and processes and their implications to social work 3 units
SW202 Human Behavior & Social Change Theories of human behavior and their implications to social work interventions for social change 3 units
SW210 Social Administration and Development Perspectives and approaches in the organization and management of social services 3 units
SW220 Social Work Theory & Practice Theory and practice of social work 3 units
SW299.1 Social Work Research I 3 units
SW299.2 Social Work Research II 3 units

Specialization Courses (6 units)

Area of Specialization Course Code Course Title Course Description Number of Units
Social Administration SW211 Social Policy Development Approaches and techniques in social policy formulation for social development 3 units
SW212 Social Planning and Program Development Participative methods of social planning and programming 3 units
Clinical Practice SW221 Clinical Social Work Practice I Individual and family diagnosis and treatment 3 units
SW222 Clinical Social Work Practice II Group treatment concepts, methods and techniques 3 units
Community Organizing SW230 Theory and Practice of Community Organization Theories, principles and processes in the formation, maintenance, consolidation and evaluation of people’s organization 3 units
SW231 Strategies in Community Mobilization Strategies and tactics in the effective mobilization of communities for social action [Prerequisite: SW 230] 3 units

Field Instruction, Electives, and Cognate (6 units)

Course Code Course Title Course Description Number of Units
SW253 Supervision in the Social Services or Any major course apart from area of specialization Supervisory principles, approaches and techniques in the supervision of professional staff, paraprofessionals and volunteers. [Prerequisite: COI] 3 units
Social Work Elective Any major course apart from area of specialization 3 units
Cognate Any 200-level course 3 units
SW280 Field Instruction I 3 units
SW281 Field Instruction by Area of Concentration 3 units
Comprehensive Exam

Additional courses are required for students who wish to proceed to Master of Social Work from Diploma of Social Work.

Course Code Course Title Course Description Number of Units
SW299.2 Social Work Research II 3 units
SW281 Field Instruction by Area of Concentration 3 units
Elective Any 200-level social work course 3 units
Cognate Any 200-level course 3 units
Comprehensive Exam
Total: 12 units
Course Code Course Title Course Description Number of Units
SW299.2 Social Work Research II 3 units
SW281 Field Instruction by Area of Concentration 3 units
SW280.2 Field Instruction: Special Client Group I Supervised field instruction to develop beginning proficiency in generalist social work practice with a special client group [Prerequisite: SW 280.1 and all core/required specialization courses] 3 units
SW280.3 Field Instruction: Special Client Group II Supervised field instruction to develop beginning proficiency in generalist social work practice with a special client group (different from the client group in SW 280.2) [Prerequisite: SW 280.2] 3 units
Comprehensive Exam
Total: 12 units

Program of Study

Students are expected to take the courses in the following sequence:

Year First Semester Number of Units Second Semester Number of Units
1 SW 210 3 units SW 201 3 units
SW 202 3 units SW 220 3 units
2 Area of Specialization 1 3 units  Area of Specialization 2 3 units
Elective 1 3 units SW 299.1 3 units
3 SW 299.2 3 units Cognate 3 units
Elective 2 3 units SW 280 3 units
4 SW 281 3 units Residence (Comprehensive Exam)

DSW Graduate who wish to proceed to MSW

Year First Semester Number of Units Second Semester Number of Units
1 SW 299.2 3 units SW 280.2 3 units
SW 281 3 units
2 SW 280.3 3 units Residence (Comprehensive Exam)

Program Policies

Field Instruction (FI), which is offered in collaboration with social agencies, forms an integral part of the preparation of students for professional responsibilities in social work. It provides forum for the critical integration of theoretical and experiential learning in social work education.

The Social Work profession was established by the passing of Republic Act 4373, otherwise known as the Social Work Law in 1965 which further requires a minimum period of 1,000 hours of practical training in any established social work agency under the supervision of a qualified and trained Social Worker.

The Program Chair acts as the FI Coordinator who serves as the administrator of the FI program specifically on developing FI manual/guide which stipulates the policies in FI, looks for and approves FI agencies, oversees the supervision of students, facilitates the understanding of UPOU and agency for FI and address other concerns related to FI.

A school fieldwork supervisor will also be needed to do weekly supervision of students to ensure that the field placement achieves the FI objectives. He/she will serve as a faculty-in-charge (FIC) for the particular FI subject. An agency fieldwork supervisor, who comes from the fieldwork agency of the student, will be the one to supervise the day-to-day activities in the field. The agency fieldwork supervisor should have at least a master’s degree in any development discipline but with social work degree at any level.

The FI Coordinator selects and approves agencies which can become FI agencies of students. Below are the minimum considerations in selecting and approving agencies/organizations to become FI agencies:

  1. The interest of the agency in providing field instruction to students;
  2. The agency’s affiliation preferably with a licensed and accredited institution/ agency or other organizations and with accredited programs;
  3. The agency’s existing programs and services that can meet the expectations/objectives of fieldwork enrolled in;
  4. The agency has qualified and willing (at least one) licensed social workers who will provide instruction/supervision to students;

Only students who completed their core and specialization/survey courses are allowed to take their FI subjects (except for SW 280.1 where students have to finish their core courses only). Different tracks and areas of specialization also differ in the number of required FI subjects, required number of hours and the focus of FI.

A student may take the comprehensive exam once he/she has completed and satisfied all courses/requirements for the program.

  1. Application for Comprehensive Examination
    • A student should file for a comprehensive exam through the student support at least two months before the scheduled dates of the examination. The program chair will:
    • Assess the application and make the necessary recommendation
    • Request the institution of a committee to manage and decide on matters related to the exam.
    • Coverage, Weight and Duration of Exam
  2. The examination is divided into four domains, each with a specific number of hours allotted:
    • The student can complete the examination within three consecutive days.
  3.  Passing
    • The student needs to get 70% passing rate per exam domain. An oral examination might be given for domains with 60% passing rate or for clarification purposes.
    • A student is only given two chances to pass the comprehensive examination.
  4. Exam Venue
    • Comprehensive exam venues can be in the Learning Center or somewhere else but still following the procedures of online/offshore examination.
  5. Logistics
    • The student can use a computer/laptop in answering the exam. The student needs to empty the files in the computer and the exam proctor would check the computer before the start of the examination.
    • At the end of each exam day (except for the last day), the student leaves the computer to the proctor for safekeeping.
    • The student is also advised to bring food during the exam especially for the domain on area of specialization to avoid untoward dishonest behavior when the student leaves the exam room for break time.

For admission related details, please visit UPOU website.

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